By Thomas Lux
which regenerate their tails
and also eat only the tails of other electric eels,
presumably smaller, who, in turn, eat …
Without consulting an ichthyologist — eels
are fish — I defer to biology’s genius.
I know little of their numbers
and habitat, other than they are river dwellers.
Guess which river. I have only a note,
a note taken in reading
or fever — I can’t tell, from my handwriting, which. All
I know is it seems
sensible, sustainable: no fish dies,
nobody ever gets so hungry he bites off more
than a tail; the sting, the trauma
keeps the bitten fish lean and alert.
The need to hide while regrowing a tail teaches guile.
They’ll eat smaller tails for a while.
These eels, these eels themselves are odes!
Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, Thomas Lux’s poetry often deals with life’s tragedies, but usually employs an ironic humor. He published numerous books of poetry including Split Horizon, which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Lux taught at Sarah Lawrence College.
More By This Poet
It's the Little Towns I Like
It’s the little towns I like
with their little mills making ratchets
and stanchions, elastic web,
name it. I like them in New England,
bad jobs good enough to live...
Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy
For some semitropical reason
when the rains fall
relentlessly they fall
into swimming pools, these otherwise
bright and scary
arachnids. They can swim
a little, but not for long
and they can’t climb the ladder out.
They usually drown—but
if you want their favor,
if you believe there is justice,
More Poems about Nature
What Women Are Made Of
We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;
we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root
and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
Of Tribulation, these are They,
Denoted by the White.
— Emily Dickinson
in the split geode
a Santa’s grotto
every surface —
like sea urchins’ —
in the doorways
sleepers from the womb
to make of anything succulent